Katahdin region seeks $10,000 development grant

Posted May 13, 2010, at 9:04 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 12 p.m.

Katahdin region officials will seek a $10,000 Community Development Block Grant to continue to pay a community and business development specialist for more part-time work.

The Katahdin Area Recovery and Expansion Committee voted unanimously earlier this week to seek the $10,000 grant through Eastern Maine Development Corp., to which KARE would add $2,500, to fund Jason Bird’s efforts, said Kathy Lee, Medway’s administrative assistant.

If awarded, the federal grant will pay for another six months of Bird’s weekly visits to the region and other work.

Since becoming the Katahdin region’s part-time community development specialist in February, the 26-year-old EMDC worker has met with more than 30 regional entrepreneurs and worked to help them improve or prepare to launch businesses.

Bird’s present contract expires June 30. A portion of the $75,000 that Brookfield Renewable Power Inc. pays the region annually as compensation for the shutdown of the Brookfield-owned Millinocket mill in 2008 has funded his efforts and will provide the $2,500.

KARE voted 14-2 during a meeting at the East Millinocket town office in late December to pay EMDC $8,125 to have one of its representatives visit East Millinocket, Medway and Millinocket weekly to work with businesses.

The vote was the committee’s second on the Millinocket proposal. The panel narrowly defeated an earlier Millinocket push to hire the agent, saying that Millinocket’s effort would undermine the volunteer subcommittee of local business owners that recommended against the program.

EMDC has contracted with Millinocket to provide economic development services on an as-needed basis, but that effort has drawn relatively little interest, Millinocket officials have said.

They believe, and KARE eventually agreed, that Bird’s work will help the region qualify for a federal grant that would pay a development agent as much as $500,000 for up to five years to improve the region’s economy.

A development specialist with EMDC since 2007, Bird is responsible for grant writing and administration and program design and implementation for several projects, according to emdc.org.

Anyone seeking to locate a business in the Katahdin region or to get help for one there may contact Bird at jbird@emdc.org, 942-6389 or toll-free at 800 339-6389.

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